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king12345

Management company accounts. Many duplicate invoices.

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Hi everyone.

 

Following a drama with my brother's management company i decided to put mine under scrutiny.

 

I own a flat in a leasehold tower which is managed by this company.

Back in November i obtained last years accounts and relevant receipt for inspection.

 

Immediately i noticed that in the summary the same invoice number had been billed 5 times for the same amount with different dates and description.

In other words,

invoice number 12345 repair to tank pipe 01/05/2016 £140.51,

invoice number 12345 repair to gutter pipe 01/06/2016 £140.51, and so on 5 times

The relevant receipt relates only to one repair.

 

I pointed this out to them and they said they will have to find the other receipt, but despite my many emails, live chats and twitter conversations, they're still giving me the runaround.

 

i called the company who supposedly did the work and after a fight about data protection, i managed to extract from them that:

1. They never use the same reference number for different invoices and jobs done in different days.

2. They only did one job at the building, they have no record of the other 4.

Of course i recorded the call.

 

I asked the poor receptionist to send me an email confirming that, but she seemed scare and said she would pass my request to a manager who never came back to me.

 

To crazy people like me, it seems that they are duplicating invoices to charge more money.

The head of finance and ceo have both signed these accounts.

Also an "independent" accountancy firm has checked and validated the accounts.

 

Here comes my plan and i would like your advice please:

1. Submit a formal complaint and ask for a refund within 14 days (or is it 30 under pre action protocol now?)

2. Inform all other residents of this and help them complain, strength in numbers.

3. Issue a letter before action and give them further 14 days (or 30?)

4. Start a MCOL which would likely go in my favour.

5. Once a CCJ is obtained, send in the hceo

6. Report head of finance and ceo to police for fraud and to HMRC and companies house for false accounting

7. Report the accountancy firm to their regulator (got to find out who they are)

8. Somehow obtain previous years accounts which at the moment they rightly said they won't provide because they're not obliged to under the landlord and tenants act.

9. Sack them and form a leaseholders' association to manage our own building or appoint another firm and keep them in check.

 

Many residents are elderly and living on the breadline, so they'll be going nuts if they knew they've been overcharged, so I'm confident i will get a large majority backing.

I would be grateful for any suggestion, criticism and ideas.

Thanks

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Hi

 

Have a look at this Leasehold Advisory Service link.

 

When to contact the redress scheme: https://www.lease-advice.org/fact-sheet/contact-redress-scheme/


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I cannot give any advice by PM - If you provide a link to your Thread then I will be happy to offer advice there.

I advise to the best of my ability, but I am not a qualified professional, benefits lawyer nor Welfare Rights Adviser.

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Thanks stu007, but after seeing the property ombudsman at work i prefer not to engage with them.

They don't even read complaints fully but stop at the first line and there's a back log of 12 months atm.

I'd rather go to court.

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Any comments?

Did i post in the wrong section?

I value your opinion, so just throw it at me.

Thanks

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what is the total for the "erroneous" invoices/charges and are the ones for the pipe repair the only provable example?

How many flats in the block so what is each persons share of this overcharging.

You see, they may well refund you your tenner but not bother with the others unless they complain and thus get away with the bulk of their misdeeds.

 

You also need to go through all of the last 6 years worth of accounts as well to see if this is a common problem.

managing agents tend to fall in the very good or very bad end of the spectrum and little in between.

 

Once you have your figures there is no hurry to go to court so try asking the regulator for the accountans what they think of the sloppy work here signing off obvuiously duff figures.

 

You can the inform the taxman that the MA areusing duff figures for their tax returns by claiming these costs when they are in fact just trousering the cash

 

Everyone will say that it was all just a mistake but once they MA realise they are being watched by lots of eyes they will start to show a bit more diligence and so will thir accountants

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The amount for these four extra invoices is only around £20, but i haven't looked at the whole bundle of receipts yet, so more might appear.

 

One thing i noticed is that they have a contract with a gardening company for £400k/year.

 

This sounds extremely excessive to me as two gardeners on £50/60k could keep the gardens in better condition.

 

When i query this i was told that they have an internal policy dictating they can only give contracts to companies with a turnover of £1M or more.

 

Why???

A local gardening firm would charge a quarter of that if they didn't want to directly employ the gardeners.

 

I'm starting to think there's more than meets the eye with them.

They are refusing to show me previous years accounts stating the landlord and tenants act.

 

I meant the amount due to me.

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well, I will do your gardening for £1m and that will then qualify me for the job.

Internal policy? bull.

 

You could understabnd it if they were building a new block and wre worried about the contractor having cashflow problems but ofr gardening- really?

Do they think that a bloke with a lawnmower might run off with the turf or trees?

 

My brother used to be in charge of a councils direct labour force for building works when councils employed such people in large numbers.

he left after he had big arguments about using the preferred suppliers who happened to be some councillors brother or belonged to the same lodge as the head of finance.

 

As for LTA well they arent either so you go above them.

 

try and get enough people interested in this matter and use the law to sack them.

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Thanks, submitted complaint today asking for a refund and for the mistake to be made public on their website.

 

They'll probably won't do it, but I'm sure they'll start worrying when they get a crowd of pensioners at their door demanding a refund.

I'll make sure local press will be there.

 

Preparing leaflets to post to other tenants atm, but i will wait until there's an admission or court judgement before spreading the news.

 

I looked at the accounts more thoroughly and found that they have charged twice for lift maintenance as well to the tune of £600 odd for the building:

Another mistake???

 

Also, they are charging each resident for the following:

1. Administration/services £58

2. Building management £42

Aren't these two charges the same thing?

To me it looks like they're taking their pay twice.

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It does seem as if the tenants are being ripped off?

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Found another dodgy one.

 

Under the lifts expenses they have added £38 per tenant for "engineer insurance".

 

Now, I'm not an expert by far, but I'm sure Otis already provides employer liability insurance to its employees and our building is insured for third party liability.

 

Why on earth do we need to have another insurance for engineers attending the site???

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The lift expenses for Otis 'engineer insurance' really thinks this is more a maintenance/service/repair of the lifts which would be a contract with Otis not insurance.


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I cannot give any advice by PM - If you provide a link to your Thread then I will be happy to offer advice there.

I advise to the best of my ability, but I am not a qualified professional, benefits lawyer nor Welfare Rights Adviser.

Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

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There's a standard maintenance contract supported by monthly receipts at £350 approx per month.

 

This engineer insurance is in addition to that.

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some maintenance contracts are insurance based so that way if something big goes wrong the client doesn't have to pay for spare parts.

 

This is on top of the normal maintenance where nothing in the way of parts are expected to be replaced and consumables are probably ony a bit of grease.

 

Now the lift co will know what they mean so you could try asking them.

 

they wont be obliged to tell you but if you let them know that you are wondering if the charges are real and that the taxman/police may become involved if the managing agents are indeed trowsering a few quid then they may well say yes or no without going into detail of the contract not that you want to know anyway, just whether the co get the money

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The steps you should use are:

 

1. S21 of LTA 1985 - Which gives you a right to ask for summary of amounts incurred (which you more or less have)

 

2. S22 - This more importantly gives you a right to inspect the actual invoices

 

Your 'steps' 1-9 are a bit simplistic (and maybe optimistic), disputes of this kind will be transferred to the FTT (previously LVT) not county court, although the MA will still have to prove costs were actually incurred but FTTs are notoriously contradictory and unreliable in their decisions.

 

As for step 9, the MA will be employed by the Freeholder, you as a leaseholder have no power to dismiss them unless you own part of the freehold through a shared freeholder company arrangement.

 

Yes it maybe true that they are only obliged to provide the last set of accounts although you could dispute the previous years and the FTT would ask them to then disclose these, also under general pre-litigation/disclosure rules both parties are expected to try and lay out their case/disclose any docs/reach settlement if at all possible..a party can be penalised if they dont do this.

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I am thinking that the i could go to county court because they simply owe me money.

 

I was going to separate the non existent charges from the disputable charges and start a mcol only for the amount they clearly added without having any receipt for, so to avoid the random judgement of FTT which you rightly pointed out.

 

In all honesty, i don't think it would go to court because clearly they have put charges in the accounts that shouldn't be there and duplicated them several times, so i expect an early admission and settlement.

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but will they pay just you or every other leaseholder? this is how the parking co's make money when caught with their trousers down, they just settle with one person

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That's my plan.

To get admission and then get all other residents to claim.

Most of them are pensioners and if they heard they are owed money they'd start a war.

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Little update.

 

I went through the accounts and receipts with an accountant and found over £500 of undocumented charges.

 

Some of them were skillfully hidden but the accountant spotted them immediately and said that he sees this day in day out.

 

i sent a formal complaint asking for missing receipts, explanation of duplicate charges and if not received in 30 days a refund.

I'm sure they'll ignore this and they'll also ignore the lba that i will send in a month time.

For some reasons they think they're untouchable.

 

In previous communication they insisted that they are my landlord and i should let them do what they like.

I pointed out to them that they are the managing agent, at best working for the landlord.

 

In reality, the landlord is nowhere to be contacted as his last address is somewhere in Lincolnshire where now lies a shopping centre.

I suppose being a Lord he just pockets all the ground rent and doesn't care what goes on in his land.

 

But again, the management company thinks that they are the landlord and can do what they want, i even got this on tape from the customer service manager.

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I'm sure that a judge will listen to it intently if they want to go down that route

 

Form a leaseholders association and try and get rid of these bandits.

 

However I dont see too many decent ones so the alternative is to manages the buildings yourselves and if you have a lot of buy to lets that may well prove as easy as herding cats

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If it makes it to court i guess it will be a simple case of "no receipt = no charge".

 

I also think that if it goes all the way to court and they show up with receipts, the judge wouldn't be much impressed by them not disclosing the documents earlier.

 

It would be difficult to manage ourselves because there's almost 100 flats in the tower, but all i want is accurate accounts, that's why i will check them every year and ask for receipts.

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you could all employ a managing agents but have the advantage of being able to boot them out as soon as they failed to do things properly.

but i agree it is difficult to get the other residents interested in anything that involves work (or even thinking for themselves)

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Little update on this.

 

Management company replied to my complaint saying that the documents I requested are not readily available, however they will give them to me within the 30 days i stated in my letter.

 

How can these documents not be readily available?

I asked for them in almost 6 months ago.

 

I would've thought that a professional company would keep all receipts related to a certain account in the same place.

In other words i would keep all receipts related to repair to a certain building in the same file, not scattered about in the office somewhere.

What would they do if HMRC asked for these documents?

 

Tell them that they're not readily available and give them the runaround for 6 months?

LBA to follow in a couple of weeks.

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many companies scan documents and then file the originals in a box in the basement.

 

Presumably they have bought a new computer and forgot to copy the files across and then sold the old one to someone in Nigeria who doesnt know what a 319 is as they are the epitome of probity but the deal in getting back the files from there

 

along with the invoice for the late president Sani Abacha's auntie's inheritance tax overpayment they are currently processing as well.

Either that or the dog at the paperwork- honest!

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If we end up in court I'll make sure I repeat this to the judge

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Hi everyone, the 30 days since my first official letter will be up in a couple of days.

 

I sent this letter via recorded delivery and also via email to the only email address i have which is customer services.

 

Now that i am at lba stage, do i send the letter and email or just the recorded delivery letter will do.

 

I know it doesn't cost anything to send an email, but i don't know if "sharing" the lba with their entire office would be ok.

Thoughts?

Thanks

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